Sublime craftsmanship, exceptional designs and remarkable gems define the “Made in Thailand” brand of jewellery.
The jewellery industry in Thailand has a long history. The tradition of gold and gemstone-based jewels reached a high point during the Ayutthaya Era, from the 14th to the 18th century, when the rulers commissioned magnificent gold crowns, swords and other adornments embellished with glittering gemstones. With centuries to hone their skills, artisans in Thailand became among the best in the world. In the 21st century, one could say that Thai jewellery has reached a second peak, with the creation of spectacular masterpieces by an array of highly skilled jewellers, making Thailand a major player on the global gem and jewellery stage.
Over the years, the sector has steadily evolved from a small cottage trade to a large-scale export-oriented industry. Jewellery and gem products now account for a substantial share of the nation's exports, generating tens of billions of Baht to the economy and creating jobs for millions of people.
This success did not happen by chance. The confluence of entrepreneurship, competitive skilled labour, talented designers with a finger on the pulse of fashion, strict quality control, flexible production capacity and the use of innovative and state-of-the-art technology has resulted in a jewellery manufacturing powerhouse unlike any other. It doesn't hurt either that Thailand offers solid infrastructure, dependable transportation and effortless connections to every corner of the world, as well as tax-free zones such as Gemopolis in Bangkok and the Gem and Jewelry Center in Chanthaburi.
Mastery of craft
The industry is largely made up of family-run businesses of all sizes, often going back generations. Some of these companies manufacture for third-party brands – including some of the best-known global luxury labels – while others sell under their own brand(s) or do both. From small boutique creators to multi-brand giants and international mass-production dynamos such as Pandora, all agree that the Land of Smiles affords them the opportunity, structure and support to flourish.
Under the visionary leadership of Prida Tiasuwan, the Pranda Group has evolved from a small family jewellery design company to a global name, with 3,000 employees and a stable of 12 international brands. At the centre of the Group's values and success is craftsmanship. “When you are dealing with craftsmanship, you are dealing with the human touch. And when you appreciate the human touch, you have love,” muses Tiasuwan. “At Pranda, we devote our hearts to working as a team, like a family. This makes us deliver the best work and achieve our goals.”
The appreciation of fine craftsmanship is also important at Gamma Creations Co Ltd, headed by Jacques Prades. “I was one of the first foreigners in the early 1980s to settle in Thailand in the jewellery business,” he reminisces, noting that he realised early on the potential that Thailand had to offer, namely the availability of all types of stones and the local expert craftsmanship.
Skilled craftspeople are a common theme among the many reasons to source and create jewellery in Thailand. Two other expats who chose Thailand as their base are brothers Arto and Saro Artinian, of Artinian Co. After travelling the world, the duo decided that Bangkok “provided an opportunity for us to put our innovative design ideas and business instincts into practice,” says Arto. “A big part of our success is based on Thai values, progressive Thai skills, teamwork and work ethic.”
K.S. Jewelry International began its story in Thailand by sourcing from dealers in the nation. Later, the owners decided to set up shop in Bangkok. “Aside from the skilled labour, a major advantage of manufacturing in Thailand is that there are hundreds of gem- and diamond-cutting factories and thousands of suppliers here,” says General Manager Adam Komarnicki. “All the big players have their offices here, so we can get almost any material within hours.”
Bipin Malani of Vama Creation Co Ltd, a manufacturer of fine 18-karat gold and diamond jewellery, cites the high quality and international standards of Thailand-made jewellery as among the country's strengths. These, along with reasonable prices and trendy designs, attract his main markets of Europe and the Middle East. The US is showing a great deal of promise too, he adds. Despite the global economic uncertainty, Malani expects Vama Creation to hold its own in 2020 and plans to explore branding opportunities.
Another major player in the Thai jewellery industry is Rcan Jewellery Co Ltd. “The strength of the ‘Made in Thailand’ brand of jewellery lies in the craftsmanship and creativity of Thai artisans, along with the reliability and quality ofthe products,” remarks General Manager Amit Gandhi. The company serves its global clientele – mainly from Europe and the US – with its fine diamond and coloured gemstone jewels. Gandhi notes that business improved this year and he expects continued growth in 2020. “We have imported new machines from Europe to further enhance the quality and finish of our jewellery pieces,” he adds.
Jewel Tech International Manufacturing Co Ltd likewise prides itself on its exceptional designs and fine craftsmanship with high-quality materials. Its latest range, The Collector's Item, features amazing jewels set with rare stones that the company had collected over its three decades in business. “Thanks to the skill of our in-house artisans, we are able to present something different – exquisite jewellery that has never been seen before,” it divulges.
Clearly, Thailand has established itself as a competitive production base with global appeal. Its vibrant industry offers truly beautiful jewels made in the Land of Smiles.